“Peace Labyrinth” gets spring cleaning, and hosts Earth Day celebration

If you’re still wondering about the difference between a labyrinth and a maze – or why one was built in Parkrose – this is the article for you to read …

Volunteer Jose Maras sweeps pavers at the Parkrose Peace Labyrinth, helping to ready it for their Earth Day celebration.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Though their plans to spruce up the Parkrose Peace Labyrinth had been rained out weeks before, volunteers again gathered in the week before Earth Day to prepare it for visitors.

A crew of more than a dozen students and neighbors came together to replace sand that had washed out, to straighten and level the pavers, and to remove grass that had grown. “The winter weather was a bit hard on the labyrinth,” noted the prime mover behind it, Sharon DeWitt.

The following Saturday was the “second birthday” for the peace monument, located at Parkrose High School, in the southwest corner of the property.

Parkrose High senior Laura Giraldo, an exchange student from Columbia (South America), paints a decorative rock as part of the Earth Day celebration.

Earth Day rocks at labyrinth
When we returned on April 18, we saw students like Parkrose High senior Laura Giraldo, an exchange student from Columbia, painting decorative rocks at the Parkrose Peace Labyrinth’s Earth Day celebration. “I like doing this; it is fun, and a new experience,” Giraldo said, as she returned to her artistry.

Sharon DeWitt greeted us, reminding that the day was the second anniversary of the groundbreaking for the Parkrose Piece Labyrinth. “By painting rocks, volunteers get to leave a colorful mark at the labyrinth.”

DeWitt reminded us that they’d started the project in honor of Earth Day.

During the 2009 Earth Day celebration, Parkrose Peace Labyrinth organizer, Sharon Dewitt, takes a moment with the high school’s AmeriCorps Community Connections volunteer, Erica Martin, before serving delicious cake.

“The idea first came to me when I was working at the high school, and noticed how busy everyone seemed to be,” DeWitt recalled. “Everyone was rushing from one place to another, talking on their cell phones and texting messages and tuning into their music. It seemed like nobody was taking a few minutes for themselves to just – and stop – and be ‘present’ with themselves.”

A labyrinth isn’t a game, like a maze, she pointed out; it is a simple, easy-to-follow pathway that encourages meditation. “No matter why you choose to walk the path, whether meditatively or energetically, you take about 15 minutes away from your busy, chaotic day. You can see everyone out here walking the labyrinth today – that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

A main reason for locating the labyrinth near the corner of NE 115th Avenue and NE Shaver Street, near as the tennis courts, was to allow community access. “The gate welcomes the community to come in and enjoy the labyrinth. And, on a clear day, you can see both Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. It’s a beautiful spot.”

For more information see their website: CLICK HERE.

Instead of just casually tossing down their individualized rock, volunteers walk the labyrinth and choose the ideal location to place their painted stone.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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